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San Jose Sharks shore up defense, goaltending

The San Jose Sharks filled some prospect holes with day 2 of the NHL Draft, making the entire prospect pool look much more well-rounded than it did just a few days before the draft. After a successful day one in which the Sharks drafted Macklin Celebrini at first overall and Sam Dickinson at 11th overall, the Sharks added three defensemen, two forwards and two goaltenders on day two.

Fear the Fin will run through all of the draft picks in depth once we have some time to catch our breaths. With free agency starting on Monday, it will likely be after all the big deals happen. That said, here’s a look at what the Sharks have added.

1. Macklin Celebrini, C – Boston University

Bringing in Macklin Celebrini immediately speeds up the Sharks’ competitive timeline. Scouts and even Celebrini’s coach at Boston University have said that the forward is NHL-ready. Now, it’s just up to Celebrini and the Sharks to decide if he wants to turn pro this season. While both sides are playing it close to the vest, it sounds like Celebrini is rushing back to the Bay Area to make sure he’s in town for prospect camp starting early next week.

Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group reported that the Celebrini family is cutting their Vegas vacation short to get back to the Bay.

For fans who have not seen the dozens and dozens of articles on what Celebrini brings to the Sharks, this is what San Jose is getting. A two-way forward who may not be as explosive offensively as last year’s number-one overall pick, Connor Bedard, but Celebrini is more well-rounded. He’ll play better defense along with putting up those scoring numbers.

We’re talking Sidney Crosby lite.

11. Sam Dickinson, D – London Knights (OHL)

While Celebrini was a slam dunk at one, pick 11 is when the Sharks really started to see some value in their picks. The team drafted 6-foot-3, 203-pound defenseman Sam Dickinson. According to Elite Prospects, Dickinson had a consolidated draft ranking of 8 overall. Some pundits, like McKeen’s Hockey, had the defenseman going as high as third overall.

Even General Manager Mike Grier was surprised that Dickinson fell to 11 after a season that saw him score 70 points in 68 games as a 17-year-old in the OHL.

In Dickinson, the Sharks get a large presence on the blueline, who plays solid defense while still capable of moving the puck. He projects as a top-pairing defenseman. He’s mobile and he’s athletic.

He’ll play another season in the OHL with the London Knights, and then we may see him make the move to the San Jose Barracuda, much the same way Luca Cagnoni did this summer.

33. Igor Chernyshov, F – Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

With pick 33, the Sharks smartly took the best player left on the board. Igor Chernyshov had a consolidated draft ranking of 18, according to Elite Prospects and none of the top rankings had Chernyshov ranked outside of the first round.

Chernyshov is a 6-foot-2, 193-pound forward. He won’t be a top liner, but he uses his body well to shield the puck and drive the net. He could use some work defensively, but he’ll have a chance to develop in the KHL for another year.

The good news for Sharks fans is that Chernyshov has split the last two years between the KHL and the MHL in Russia, meaning he’s already been testing his skills against men. He’s committed to the KHL for one more season, and then he’ll be available to come to the San Jose Barracuda if that’s what Grier and company want.

53. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D – Växjö Lakers HC J20 (SHL)

At pick 53, the Sharks snagged another player that would not have surprised as a first-round pick. Leo Sahlin Wallenius is a large defenseman who says he models his game after Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars.

Sahlin Wallenius had a combined draft ranking of 40, with people like Craig Button and McKeen’s Hockey ranking him in the late first round.

“I’m a two-way defender, a smart player,” Sahlin Wallenius told Taylor Haase of DK Pittsburgh Sports at the NHL’s Scouting Combine in Buffalo, N,Y earlier this month. “I have good hockey sense, and I’m a good skater.”

He was the top defenseman in the Swedish Junior Hockey League last season.

82. Carson Wetsch, F – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

At 82, the Sharks got another value pick in Carson Wetsch. Wetsch had a consolidated ranking of 73 according to Elite Prospects with Chris Peters of FloHockey ranking him as high as 53. TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranked Wetsch 70.

The Calgary Hitmen forward had a good season in the WHL, scoring 50 points in 67 games. Wetsch had 25 goals, 25 assists and 89 penalty minutes to boot.

There is no flash to Wetsch’s game. He drives the net, fires off wristers and has no problem playing the body when the case calls for it.

116. Christian Kirsch, G – Zug U20 (Swiss League)

Using the pick the team received when the team traded Adin Hill to the Golden Knights, the Sharks selected Christian Kirsch, a goaltender from Switzerland, at 116. This was the only pick in the draft that felt like a bit of a reach for the Sharks, but I think the team felt like it needed to add to the goaltending depth.

Kirsch finished last season with a 22-5-1 record and 2.32 goals against average for Zurg U20. He went 7-3-1 in the playoffs with a 2.17 goals against average. He was 1-3-1 for Switzerland in the U18 World Championship with a 3.59 goals against average and a .872 save percentage.

That said, at just 18, there’s plenty of room for the 6-foot-4, 192-pound goaltender to develop his game. He will play in the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL in 2024-25 and then move to the University of Massachusetts in 2025-26. That gives Grier and his staff plenty of time to observe and work with the netminder as he enters key development years.

131. Colton Roberts, D – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Colton Roberts was another steal for the Sharks at 131. According to Elite Prospects, his consolidated draft ranking was 87, with his lowest ranking at 130 by FC Hockey. So, GMMG and company got themselves a player that was, unanimously thought to be better than where he was drafted. A-plus in that regard.

Just the same, by the time you get to pick 131, it’s hard to say what you’re going to get.

According to Elite Prospects, Roberts is a right-hand shot defenseman (already a plus). He’s 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and is considered a mobile and physical defenseman.

“Roberts’ mobility is most evident on retrievals, where he easily beats opponents to the puck, takes away their space, and accelerates on reception. He’s also capable of making high-level plays on the breakout,” reads the Elite Prospects Draft Guide.

143. Nate Misskey, D – Victoria Royals (WHL)

Sticking with the theme, the Sharks drafted another large, physical defenseman at 143, taking Nate Misskey. A lot of evaluators didn’t have Misskey ranked considering he’s an overage player — this was his second year in the draft — but it wasn’t a bad gamble. Elite Prospects had Misskey at 90 on its list, while McKeen’s Hockey ranked him 83.

Plus, there’s prescedent with the Sharks drafting overagers in the Grier era. Last season, San Jose took Eric Pohlkamp, who’s game has continued to grow as he ages. Post-draft, Pohlkamp made the U.S. World Junior team and has transferred from Bemidji State to the University of Denver, the reigning National Champions.

But enough about Pohlkamp, Misskey is 19 and had 34 points in 44 games, wearing the “A” for the Victoria Royals of the WHL this past season. It was a large increase from his 14 points in 65 games in the 2022-23 season.

The growth is there and the Sharks jumped on it.

194. Yaroslav Korostelyov, G – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

The Sharks used the team’s final pick of the draft to take another goaltender. After the draft, San Jose Hockey Now’s Sheng Peng reported that Korostelyov was number two on San Jose’s goaltender draft board with Kirsch coming in at number one.

Korostelyov is a 6-foot-2, 168 pound netminder who split his time between SKA – Yunior Krasnogorsk and SKA – 1946 St. Petersburg in the MHL.

With SKA – Yunior Krasnogorsk, Korostelyov had a 8-8-0 record with a .931 save percentage.

He had a 4-0-2 record with SKA – 1946 St. Petersburg and a .936 save percentage. In the playoffs, he went 0-1-0 with a .818 save percentage.

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